There are few – if any – vacations that offer the same sense of seclusion, luxury and excitement as safaris and desert vacations do. Picture this: lion-spotting in the vast, empty savannah from the comfort of a 4×4, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be spending the night in a luxury resort and eating the finest food in a few hours’ time.
Safari tourism is something of a recent development – particularly with the rapid development of Dubai and the surrounding areas ¬– and it can seem a bit mysterious. But our travel experts over at Insight Guides have done the hard work for you, picking the most unique luxury safaris and desert adventures out there:
When to go: September to June
In the Erg Chigaga, true seclusion plus traditional hospitality is a winning formula. To reach the camp, you must embark on a nine-hour 4×4 drive from Marrakech. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of the most stunning desert landscapes in existence. In fact, the journey is so picturesque that many choose to complete it over two days to savor the incredible vistas. When you arrive at the camp, you’ll be met by a small selection of luxury tents. Each tent is 80 square feet and has a private bathroom, along with traditional Moroccan décor. During the day, you can take part on excursions by jeep, foot or camelback. In the evening, enjoy a local feast, smoke a shisha and marvel at the clear night sky.
When to go: May to September
What better way to safari across vast plains than by quad bike? That’s exactly what many companies are offering across Africa. The Kubu Trail is our pick: The company operates five-night quad safaris across the most remote areas of Botswana. Each night, you’ll stop at a luxury hotel to rest up for the night before setting off again the next morning. An experienced guide will lead you through Botswana’s savannah, where you’ll see antelope, wildebeest, hippopotamus and rhino. Other than that, it’s just you, the quad, and the open road (so to speak).
When to go: November to April
Based in a luxury camp just outside of Dubai, the Private Night Safari – as you may have guessed from the name – operates by moonlight. You’ll be picked up from your hotel in a Land Rover and driven to the camp out in the desert, where you can gather around the campfire, enjoy a barbeque dinner, smoke a shisha and absorb the resident astronomer’s impressive knowledge of the night sky and Arabian mythology. Using the latest high-tech equipment such as night vision, your guide will lead you out into the desert, where you’ll see wildlife leave their hiding places. Depending on the season, and your luck, you can spot graceful animals such as the Arabian onyx, desert leopard and jackal.
When to go: year round
Located in the Atacama Desert in north Chile, the Awasi resort is one of South America’s most popular getaways. The Atacama is the driest non-polar desert on the planet, and the Awasi looks over its vast emptiness and salt plains. There are just eight bedrooms, which gives this luxury resort an intimate feel. The rooms are decorated in traditional Peruvian style, with plenty of dark, earthy colors. There’s also a beautiful swimming pool and chic bar. The chef changes the menu each night, using local ingredients to create fresh, sumptuous dishes: think red wine and red meat. The beauty of the location and quality of the service cement the Awasi’s place as one of the most exclusive, luxurious destinations the continent has to offer.